Wednesday, January 10, 2018
The History Of The ATR Pool.
Before the implementation of the terrible, "giveback laden" 2005 contract, excessed teachers were given priority and must be placed in vacancies in their District before principals can hire from the outside. In fact, most excessed teachers were give a list of up to six vacancies and could select the one the best suited them. Moreover, since, all teachers were considered units, salary was not a factor. Hiring a veteran teacher had advantages since they possessed classroom management skills, curriculum knowledge, and institutional memory. the schools were happy to get them Sure, principals tried to hide vacancies, sometimes in vain, and waited until all excessed teachers in the District were placed, before filling the vacancies. However, the bottom line was, except from obsolete titles like a typing teacher, all excessed teachers were placed in the vacancies as permanent employees of that school.
Thanks to our disconnected union leadership, they negotiated away two vital programs that allowed the DOE to create the ATR pool. The first was the seniority transfer system that allowed veteran teachers to bump untenured teachers if they wanted the position. The second and most important program the union agreed to eliminate was the right to bump less senior teachers if the veteran teacher's job was eliminated. This is a basic program for all Civil Service employees and the union agreed to this on the condition that the newly created ATR cannot be fired for not having a classroom position. The DOE eagerly agreed to the condition and from day one in every contract negotiation the DOE has tried to renege on the deal by asking for an ATR time limit. Failing to achieve their goal of obtaining an ATR time limit, they have gone to great lengths to tell the media that the ATRs are "bad" or "unwanted " teachers. Now that the DOE is sick and tired of shelling out $150 million dollars annually for the ATR pool, the DOE's decade long disparaging of the ATRs has made it difficult to place them.
Fast on the heels of the terrible 2005 contract was the implementation of the destructive school based fair student funding (fsf) that penalizes schools who hire veteran teachers since under the fsf the average actual salary of the school is used and it incentives principals to "hire the cheapest and not the best teachers" for their school. Moreover, with schools funded at 85% of their fair funding, raised to 90% (apparently its only 87%( this school year, this further pushes principals to hire as cheap as possible. The union leadership know full well what fsf meant to the ATR pool as an influx of veteran teachers were excessed due to the 162 closing schools and reduced programs as the new small Bloomberg schools that replaced the larger schools hired mostly a "newbie" teaching staff and few veteran teachers were selected. At it's peak the ATR pool was close to 2,400 educators.
Over the years the DOE has tried to offer incentives to principals and buyouts to ATRs with limited success. The two ATR buyouts were so inadequate only a total of 226 teachers actually took the buyouts and almost all of them were retiring anyway! As for the incentives, the only one that had a significant impact was the November 2009 incentive that allowed principals to hire ATRs and only be responsible for the salary of a "newbie" teacher. This also coincided with a hiring freeze.
Over the years the ATR pool has slowly diminished as ATRs have retired and until next school year there were few school closings. However, with two large high schools having staff reapplying for their positions and 14 school closings, the ATR pool will probably increase from the 1,202 at the beginning of this school year. One negative change for the Caren Faina years was that the DOE set up three lists of ATRs. The first were from closing schools and programs and were the only ones offered by the DOE to be hired by schools. The second list where for ATRs who received unsatisfactory or ineffective ratings and the final list were ATRs who won their 3020-a hearings and were excluded from the hiring list by the DOE, unless there was no other ATR available in the subject are in the Borough.
What the future holds for the ATR pool is in question. Will the new Chancellor eliminate the fsf and force schools to absorb the ATRs or will it continue as is. Only time will tell.